The story was so ridiculous it had to be true; Kanye West appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show this week to promote a film and show off his (literally) million dollar smile. I know what you’re thinking, ‘I got bills to pay and this fool is putting gems in mouth!’ Perhaps West is the latest victim of the Midas Syndrome or ‘new money’ (normal people whose taste and common sense are lost when exposed to extreme wealth.)
We’ve seen what happens to the average Joe when his coffers become outsized; he’s the one buying every tricked out car and wearing every label known to man. Most celebrities have a bit of this, but with proper management, the ‘buy it’ bug doesn’t sting so badly which makes Kanye’s decision even weirder. Doesn’t he have people around him who can say, ‘Hey, you know what? That’s crazy’?
I will admit that part of the blame for his outlandishness lies in us, and by us, I mean the fan base. We have expectations of our stars: how they look, dress, where they live and what they drive. If Kanye walked the red carpet wearing Payless and Kmart, we’d wonder, where’s the money? We’d make fun of him and laugh him into oblivion (NOTE: Some of you might remember when Sharon Stone wore a Gap tee to the Academy Awards back in 1996, but that was novelty and she paired it with Valentino and Armani.)
Nobody follows someone considered cheap and/or tacky because what does that say about you? We demand extravagance from celebrities and our attention to shows like VH1’s The Fabulous Life of…, MTV’s Cribs prove as much. When asked about his oral upgrade, Kanye replied, ‘I just thought diamonds were cooler. There’s just certain stuff that rock stars are supposed to do.’ Really? I don’t know if Bruce Springsteen will be following suit anytime soon.
Going back to West’s response, the key words are ‘supposed to’. Who makes up these rules anyway? That someone with a lot of money has to live in house with more rooms than people? Have more cars than fingers? And use gems as dental wear? Can it be that we, the fans, created the monster than not only chases us to keep up with the Joneses, but makes the same demands of the Joneses themselves?